Letter from the Rev’d Amanda Collinson

Posted by Admin on 23 January 2014, 11:01 pm

Amanda Collinson


St John the Baptist Church



Tel: 01983 294913

Email: revamandacollinson@virginmedia.com


If I asked you the question ‘what does February mean to you?’ what would your answer be? It’s the shortest month? The month which gives us an extra day every four years? The start of the Six Nations Rugby tournament (hurrah!)? The last month of winter? Lengthening days? Spring around the corner? Groundhog Day? For those of you who don’t know what Groundhog Day is – it is a crazy American tradition where a groundhog’s behaviour allegedly predicts the weather (mad concept but it was made into a brilliant film – watch it if you haven’t seen it!)
However I am sure many of you, with or without sighs, said somewhere in your list Valentine’s Day. Yes, whether you like it or not, the world is taken over by shops and the media forcing Valentine’s Day upon us – a time when those of us in a relationship are obliged/encouraged/forced to show our other halves how much they are loved (should this not be happening more than one day a year?) and those who are single or widowed feel even more alone. I am not a fan of Valentine’s Day, as you may have gathered: there is way too much commercialism for one day when we should be showing love and care all the time and to everyone, not just one particular person in our life on one specific day, but who am I to say? I will move on before I am tempted to get on my soap box!
The church also celebrates St Valentine’s Day but amusingly it has nothing to do with lovers! The Church of England commemorates a martyr called Valentine – a priest from Terni and was killed in Rome around 269. Not very romantic at all! The link with the celebration of lovers might be associated with a pagan festival in Rome connected to fertility but then others say that ‘valentine’ and ‘love’ was only later connected together by Chaucer. Whatever the origins, for Christians, this day also marks an acknowledgement of an all loving God who blesses those who love one another, as Jesus implored his own disciples to do. So perhaps we shouldn’t have just bought that one card for our beloveds but one for each member of the congregation! Good lord, what am I saying, I’m encouraging even more commercialism!
Normally lent starts in February but this year Easter is so late that it doesn’t start until March. I was asked last year why Easter moves so much: The reason is that the early church fathers wished to keep the observance of Easter in correlation to the Jewish Passover. Because the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus happened after the Passover, they wanted Easter to always be celebrated subsequent to the Passover. Since the Jewish holiday calendar is based on solar and lunar cycles, each feast day is movable, with dates shifting from year to year. So, in Western Christianity, Easter is always celebrated on the Sunday immediately following the Paschal Full Moon. To add to the complication the date of the Paschal Full Moon is not set by lunar events but from historical tables. It isn’t a simple answer but this is as short an explanation as I could make it with all the information included…….if you want further detail or a better explanation, ask Archdeacon Peter Sutton next time you see him!!!
However one festival that the church celebrates which is always in February is Candlemas. This is a Christian festival celebrated annually on February 2 when we commemorate 40 days after Jesus’ birth when Mary and Joseph took him to the Temple. Mary had observed the traditional period of purification (of mothers) following the birth of a son. According to a New Testament gospel, during this visitation a Jewish man named Simeon held the baby Jesus in his arms and said that he would be ‘a light for the nations’. This image of Christ as the light has led to the celebration of light countering darkness and it is for this reason that this festival is called Candlemas.
So as you can see, there are plenty of great reasons to celebrate February. There should be no reason why an artificial lover’s holiday, hyped up by the greeting card industry should take all the attention for February. So next time you dread this month and all its lovey-dovey commercialism, I hope you can instead focus on February’s other worthwhile qualities and if nothing else light a candle on 2 February and remember the love of Jesus and that he is the light of the world.
Wishing you a short but happy month! Take care,
Rev’d Amanda

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